RACINE — A Racine man accused of fatally shooting Deshaun Honeycutt in 2018 accepted a plea deal in Racine County Circuit Court Wednesday.
Francisco F. Ortiz, 22, of the 1300 block of Blake Avenue pleaded no contest to felony counts of second-degree reckless homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon and possession of a short-barreled shotgun/rifle.
As part of the deal, a charge of possession with the intent to distribute less than 3 grams of designer drugs was dismissed, although that charge will be considered for sentencing purposes.
The homicide alone charges carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.
Ortiz was initially set to face a jury earlier this month; however, at his final pretrial hearing, the trial was removed from the court calendar and a change-of-plea date was requested. Ortiz originally pleaded not guilty to the charges in July 2018.
Two change-of-plea dates were scheduled, but each time, Ortiz requested an adjournment. At Friday’s hearing, court records show that Ortiz said he was not ready to proceed, and a new date was set. The state threatened that if Ortiz did not accept the plea deal at Wednesday’s hearing, the offer would be withdrawn.
Ortiz is scheduled to be sentenced on April 6 at the Racine County Law Enforcement Center, 717 Wisconsin Ave., online court records show.
Gas station altercation
In the past, Ortiz has argued that he was defending himself on June 25, 2018. That is the night 31-year-old Honeycutt was found fatally shot in the driver’s seat of a crashed Jeep after a series of gunshots in the 1300 block of Blake Avenue near Ortiz’s home.
Inside the Jeep, officers found a handgun and at least six bullet holes, including one through the rear hatch. They also discovered .40-caliber casings, a live .40-caliber round and marijuana in the area.
Ortiz was developed as a suspect after surveillance footage surfaced of an interaction between him and Honeycutt at a Marathon gas station, 3024 Rapids Drive.
Ortiz’s passenger said that he and Ortiz were at the gas station talking to girls when the Jeep, allegedly driven by Honeycutt, pulled in to the gas station, almost striking one of the girls.
Surveillance video reportedly shows Honeycutt enter the station and make a gesture at the Camry driven by Ortiz. Later, the Jeep follows the Camry out of the parking lot. Ortiz’s passenger said the Jeep followed them from the station onto Blake Avenue and stopped in the street near the Camry when they exited.
When entering Ortiz’s house, the passenger said he heard gunshots, turned back and saw Ortiz shoot about six times and the Jeep drive away. The passenger started to walk home when Ortiz pulled up next to him and told him he would give him a ride home.
The witness said Ortiz asked: “Why the dude make me do that?” The witness did not see a person in the Jeep with a gun, but said Ortiz said he saw the driver with a gun at the gas station.
Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter
Get the latest in local public safety news with this weekly email.